Attractions March 05, 2017
The Fascinating Town In Wisconsin That Is Straight Out Of A Fairy Tale
It’s like Mineral Point was just waiting for this topic – sitting there all adorable and charming in the middle of Wisconsin.
The town was first settled by immigrants from the Cornwall region of England that had backgrounds as miners. They came to mine the zinc and lead in the ground and brought their unique backgrounds to the area.
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This little town is considered part of the Madison metro area.
Though Mineral Point is most known for its Cornish history, it's got some pretty significant state history, as well.
When you visit, you'll notice all the touches that make Mineral Point so special. The town is proud of its history and its reincarnation as an arts enclave. Maybe my favorite lasting part of the Cornish heritage that helped found the city is that instead of having a Main Street, they have High Street, a fully British custom.
The Cornish folks that immigrated to the area were miners. They came for new opportunities in the zinc and lead mines. Back in Cornwall, they were skilled laborers, not only in the mines, but with stonework. Their fingerprints are all over Mineral Point - especially in the food.
Pasties are a specialty in this area and something you won't find a ton of other places.
One of the first ways Mineral Point was revitalized in the 1930s was by restoring some of the Cornish architecture and serving pasties.
Just looking at the pictures is enough to convince you an animated movie could happen here. There's fancy architecture and the homes of the working class. There's a thriving arts scene and all the history. The setting feels rife for some whimsy and magic.
One of the original mine hills remains and of course it has the most charming name - Merry Christmas Mine.
Everyone knows Wisconsin is the Badger State - but did you know the origins of that nickname only have slight connections to the animal? These holes they dug to mine in - and sometimes sleep in - resembled Badger dens. The name stuck.
The Mineral Point Opera House was opened as a Vaudeville Hall to entertain the locals. It's gone through some other lives, but the gorgeous architecture remains.
The Mineral Point depot was built in 1856 from local materials, and has survived to become the oldest depot in Wisconsin. It was in operation from 1856-1984. It's now a museum telling the local railroad story that is inextricably linked to the mining in the area.
Pendarvis is a National Historic Landmark and these two are the originally restored homes that started the revitalization of Mineral Point.
Though the architecture, shops and stories of Mineral Point are a great draw, the gorgeous landscape around the town also shouldn't be missed. It's a slice of Wisconsin and Americana.
It took a lot of sweat equity for the residents of Mineral Point to get the town back to its former glory and restore all the historical buildings.
But now they shine and show the town off to its best. Despite the revitalization and renewal as an art town, Mineral Point is entirely unpretentious. Maybe because so many of the local artists get materials and inspiration from the ground around the area. And because they are invested - when Shake Rag Alley was up for sale to be turned into vacation homes, the artists bought it, made it an Arts Center, and turned it over to a board.
The National Trust for Historic Preservation named Mineral Point one of its Distinctive Destinations, calling it "an architectural treasure trove.''
Visitors love Brewery Creek Inn, Cottages and Brew Pub. The building itself is a gem, the staff is spectacular, the beer is delicious and the food is worth coming back for.
If you don't imagine a certain live-action movie remake that's coming out soon while strolling the streets here, I'd be surprised.
We'd be remiss if we didn't direct you to Hook's Cheese. These folks make the best aged cheddar around, and the co-owner Julie is the only woman to have ever been awarded top prize at the World Champion Cheese competition.
Aside from everything else in town, this area is part of Wisconsin's Driftless region - the area of the state that was untouched during the Wisconsin glaciation. The area was never flattened and it's a completely different terrain than the rest of the state.
This is a wonderful place to spend an afternoon! Have you ever visited Mineral Point?
For even more fabulous small towns, check out our list of
10 perfectly picturesque Wisconsin towns.